Sunday, June 25, 2006

Let's Hear It For The Boys!

DETROIT, Michigan (AP) -- The American Civil Liberties Union wants Michigan's governing body for high school athletics to reconsider a policy keeping boys out of the postseason tournament for competitive cheerleading.

In Michigan, boys can only compete on girls cheerleading teams if the school that they are facing agrees to it!

This is just in my humble opinion, but that sounds an awful lot like a certain female wrestler not getting a match because the catholic school being faced did not allow its wrestlers to wrestle girls.

Apparently the case is that in Michigan, boys on "girls teams" cannot attend tournaments that aren’t sanctioned by the high school. The way athletics works in most of the country is that there are two venues for sports, one scholastic (meaning school-sponsored for student-athletes) and another open-invitational (meaning independent association sponsored for any athlete). In wrestling, there are high school dual and invitational meets that are CIF sponsored through the high schools, and then there are Local Association Events (Freestyle Tournaments) that aren’t through the schools, but have divisions for high school and junior athletes. These are the tournaments you go to if you’re trying to go to the Olympics, they’re not school sanctioned at all, but school-aged athletes are highly encouraged to go to them for the experience and to get better at their sport. From my experience, these tournaments are crucial for improvement in wrestling. Other sports, including gymnastics, cheerleading, judo, swimming, track and field etc, have their own associations like FILA (wrestling) and USASwim which are state sanctioned and hold their own meets.

Under a decade-old policy in Michigan, boys cannot compete in local association and non-scholastic sports venues with girls on girl’s teams during the off-season. They can compete through their school’s during the sport’s season, but only if the other school doesn’t have some sort of an aversion to it (!!).

Firstly, this is incredibly unfair because it limits the amount of training a person receives and how good an athlete gets in his or her chosen sport based on gender. Some people may have an aversion or make fun of male cheerleaders, but seeing them in person at the National or College level, they are amazing! They have to bench 135lbs with one arm while standing on one leg and then catch it as it is thrown up and falling! I’m pretty tough, but I don’t know if I could do that. The same goes for male dancers and especially male gymnasts (who tend to be some of the most conditioned athletes in the world). These are athletes, many of which are heterosexual and take their sport very seriously. Almost every Division 1 college in the country recruits men for their cheerleading and dance teams, the competition is fierce. For some athletes, it means a college education. Actually physically limiting the amount of time an athlete can put into their chosen sport based on something they can’t control and the opinions of religious bigots who don’t want their girls to even be in the same room with other guys is a shame on our society.

We don’t have to make huge leaps and bounds and rewrite title 9 again, but we do need to be more accepting as a society. Such conservativism hurts others when you try to restrict them from going down a path you or someone else besides them does not want them to go down. It’s killing our society because it’s bringing the dreamers down, and America was originally a place for people with dreams to come and live. Ambition and individualism built this nation and reactionary fundamentalism is killing it. And yes, I do have the nerve to call Michigan’s policy reactionary, mainly because Michigan is not the only place it is happening.

In Texas, girls cannot wrestle on any scholastic team with boys and cannot compete in the local association freestyle events after the age of 13 under penalty of law. In Arizona, if a boy gets paired with a girl at a State level competition, the boy must forfeit his match and any dreams of becoming a state champion. There is virtually no such animal as male synchronized swimming, and there is no men’s scholastic gymnastics division in Southern California.

What gives people?! I don’t care if you think girls shouldn’t wrestle and boys shouldn’t dance, firstly unless you are a wrestler or a dancer you don’t have the right to tell any of us what to do, and secondly you know we are going to do it anyway so making it harder for us is only going to get us more press when we succeed! So thanks for the attention I guess!

I personally think Male Cheerleaders are hot. I’m all for it!


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